Being a parent brings many joys and responsibilities, among them encouraging children to do their best in school. These days, tracking a kid’s grades is marvelously easy. It’s a computer click away. My parents waited for six week report cards. Now, I simply open a special website to see every assignment, every test, every grade. (Might this be why so many kids report anxiety?)
Grades are an inevitable part of a kid’s growing up years. Despite the anxiety, grades measure a person’s academic progress, even if imperfectly. They provide milestones of achievement and mark areas of needed growth as well.
And then we graduate. Such markers are almost nonexistent for adults. Besides, what we wish to measure becomes much more esoteric, more immeasurable.
As Lent opens, my mind runs to Frederick Buechner’s observation that the season is almost exactly a tenth of a year, which makes it a tithe. Interested in generosity as you know me to be, paying particular attention to God through Lent might be thought of as a tithe of our time, a tithe of our attention, a tithe of our hearts. For ten percent of the year, we resolve to focus our hearts and minds on all which distracts us, tempts us, and persuades us that something other than God deserves our allegiance.
Lent isn’t for sissies, either. Honest self-appraisal is the cornerstone of spiritual growth. Without the occasional and intention effort to check in with ourselves – and hence with God – we might wander along forever, ungraded, unconsidered, unrepentant.
I hope that your Lent is a holy one. I pray that, as you contemplate your life and your relationship with God, that your self-evaluation is received with the grace with which God intends it. There is no need to be anxious because we cannot hide from God, and we do not need to.
See you in church.